20 Jahre: Kompakt Kollektion 1 acknowledges a 1993 date when some of Cologne's most notable techno producers opened a shop called Delirium. A change of direction in 1998 consolidated the shop, a confusing amount of related labels, and a retail distributor to birth Kompakt. Within a few years, Kompakt bloomed into the planet's premier techno outlet by developing from lean and underground-dwelling microhouse to beefier techno that attracted commercial DJs like John Digweed and Tiësto. They did this with an open-minded approach and tight quality control. The label doesn't intend this 25-track compilation to function as a definitive overview, yet it views each selection as a masterpiece. Just over a third of the tracks -- a surprisingly high quantity -- appeared on the fourth through tenth volumes of Total, an accessible annual series with which most casual listeners are acquainted. It is, however, hard to argue with the label's high regard for those well-worn selections, which include Thomas Fehlmann's burbling/flowing dub techno gem "Making It Whistle," the Field's jittery, Kate Bush-sampling "Over the Ice," and Partial Arts' bountifully layered "Trauermusik." It's less expected that only two of the label's first 45 vinyl releases are represented: the A-side of Dettinger's rigid/jingling "Totentanz" (1999) and Kaito's trance/tech-house hybrid "Everlasting" (2001). Some of the key artists who contributed to that illustrious stretch, such as Markus Guentner, Gustavo Lamas, Sascha Funke, and the still-missed Closer Musik, are blanked here; perhaps they'll get their due with future anthologies. Beyond working as a set of highlights, 20 Jahre is a showcase for the label's breadth, from amiable home-listening heart warmers (Heiko Voss' "I Think About You," Pluxus' "Transient") to deep and unrelenting body movers (Voight & Voigt's "Vision 03," Wighnomy Brothers' "Wurz + Blosse"). It's remarkable that Kompakt has thrived longer than many heavyweight jazz, R&B, and rock labels. Just as impressively, it remains more founder-driven than all contemporary operations of similar (considerable) size. As artists, the founders themselves -- including the Voigts, who were releasing some of their most exciting work in 2013 -- continue to factor into the label's fascinating aesthetic evolution.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2